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Poetry by John Grey

The News
May I Have This...
Smile When You Say That Strangely
What I First Thought
Published January 7, 2017
Eleventh Transmission.
Eleventh Transmission: Poetry by John Grey
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What is sorrow
but intermittent rain drops,
some descending violin notes
and a day old newspaper
blown across a sparsely populated park.

It's no scholar.
It's not an early adopter of the latest technology.
Nor is it a connoisseur of fine things.
And, though it writes well from time to time,
its art is limited.

1 remember sorrow
when it was a splinter under the skin,
a fall from a bike,
my mother's emphatic "no!"

It hasn't so much grown up since then
but trended toward the impersonal.
No longer pain
but an empty mail box.
Not an impedance
but the dousing of a light.

Even now,
a solitary leaf
drifts down from an oak bow.
And a radiator coughs
in an empty room.
Yes, even now.

The News

The telephone rings.
Someone I hardly know
has heard it from
another that I know a little
that someone I was once
very close to
has killed himself.
Intentional overdose,
hanging, slit wrists -
rumor doesn't know for sure.
And does it even matter?

To be honest,
your life on the tongues
of near strangers
is the worst way to hear of it.
But, of course,
there's no way you could have
told me this yourself.
Besides, the years
since we last spoke
are the real strangers.
They also bring me the message now.
And much more bitterly.

So there were torments
I never knew.
Places I couldn't imagine
were so dark.
An entire life in fact
more distant, more unknown,
than all figure they're doing me a favor
by sharing this terrible news.

So what do I say?
And who do I say it to?
Why not pick out somebody
who just happens to be passing by,
blurt out, "I'm so very, very sorry."
I wish I could have written your epitaph.
Sometimes words come so easily to me,
you'd think that they were here all along.

May I Have This...

Welcome guilelessly - yet boldly
new comforting, new wonders
that trumpets blare at every opportunity -

and you will tumble in my arms
with serene poise and composure
or elegiacally drift by coasts
where, by odd musical decrees,
all family, tranquil, unruffled,
rock blatantly on porches.

I remember forested Utopias
where warblers sang to fence-posts
above the pounding of the wind,
while wolf howls welcomed the moans of dying
below brisk twirling canopy.

I have seen the primitive brushwork
of the celestial surreal,
the temptress of the coils of shamefaced melody.

Let me take you out on the gleaming dance-floor,
tiered with gradations, nerves.

You are still young to me.
I cannot glower at your happiness,
tumbling here in this cultured squall
amid bold waltzers of the furrowed stars.

Smile When You Say That Strangely

branch sapped by snow,
like love's opaque banana grin -

I keep turning to the window
where blood landscapes
breed apprehension, emptiness,
not even air, no people,
just a deer trail, a brief line
to tell me this is where
no memory ever trod ~

a little sun,
any lower and there has to be
that ripping –

I can feel it in my mouth
even as I struggle to see
the thaw in this –

What I First Thought

The mind reveals itself,
too much the molded, generalized clay
divided into time and space.

Across its battle-zone partitions,
float memoranda, football scores,
lint and fluff and early write-in tallies.

The mind is intimidated by bird-flight,
passing cars, storms and arguments.

Meanwhile ideas, snubbed by rationalizing,
mob the limitations,
emphasize the sharp turns, the globs,
the barriers, the scars, the black holes,
until nothing is linear, nothing can be assessed,
and the graduated opaqueness of unknowing
spirits them away eventually to somewhere
sanctified maybe, flags hoisted in the desert,
never to bother brain matter again.

John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in New
Plains Review, Perceptions and Sanskrit with work upcoming in Big Muddy
Review, Gargoyle, Coal City Review and the Coe Review.
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